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4 Fun Holiday Activities That Help Your Child's Speech-Language Skills

parent helping child cut vegetables

It’s that time of year again. And although this holiday season promises to be quite different than those in the past, due to the pandemic-imposed restrictions, we don’t need to surrender. We can instill it with family closeness and joy, albeit in a different way.

Without question, this will require more imagination and creativity than in the past, but once we accept that, much can be done to give our children a special experience. And that includes those who are receiving speech therapy. Let’s not forget that we need to stay on track with our children’s speech and language goals.

How do you do that? First, you need to be committed to continuing working on your child’s speech therapy during the break. Need some ideas as to how to do that? These wintertime speech therapy holiday activities will keep your speech student on track, and provide loads of fun while doing it.

Poetry Practice Out Loud

As we all know, what truly defines the holidays is the focus on being with family. While kids may fixate on their gifts and yummy treats, at the end of the day it’s really about spending quality time with family. This is why a perfect activity is combining your child’s speech activity with being together with family.

Have your child recite a passage from a poem for a grandparent or uncle or aunt. Whereas in a “normal” year this would be done in person, let Zoom come to the rescue (again). For example, if your child’s main goal is to more accurately produce certain speech sounds, instruct your child to emphasize those sounds during the reading.

It doesn’t matter what the passage is or that it is holiday-related. The objective here is for your child to present something to a relative that he or she hasn’t seen in quite a while. As parents it is difficult to recognize how skewed our frame of reference may be with regards to our kids’ speech and language therapy progress; we see them day after day, and as such progress is often difficult to discern.

But with a family member who hasn’t seen or spoken to your child in months, things are quite different. Such a relative would be an excellent choice to evaluate your child’s speech improvement. And what better way for your kid to show his/her stuff than to recite a classic (or contemporary) piece of verse.

While you are at it, it is highly recommended that you give your child some kind of reward for all that hard work. Something sincerely motivating, other than another present, that will light a fire under his/her feet.

Speech Therapy Word Games

You need to think like your kid’s SLP. What would she advise you to do if you were collaborating to help your child? Why not create an inventory of all the gifts he/she gave or received, and then have your child recite that inventory? And this includes presents received from every family member (after they have been opened). Reciting such an inventory allows your child to practice sounds regardless of targets.

If your child has language-oriented rather than pronunciation-oriented goals, then instead of reciting the gifts, have him/her describe the presents and why he/she can’t wait to begin playing with those new toys or games now! This can easily become a highly motivated exercise, and your child may surprise you with words and descriptions you didn’t think your child was capable of.

Help in the Kitchen

Perhaps it’s time to hire an assistant to help you in the kitchen with all of those preparations. But the purpose here is not merely to lighten your load, but have your child constantly verbalize how they’re helping you and why. People who have tried this have been surprised at how interested kids are in not only assisting with these holiday preparations but their enthusiasm in describing them as well.

Constructive Screen Time

Although holiday time is an important time for children to “chill,” and that invariably will mean more screen time, it would be nice to earmark at least some of that time for a more constructive purpose. Constructive doesn’t mean work and no fun, it just means that since they are so easily accessible with an iPad or Android tablet, it would be a shame to waste the opportunity. Speak with your child’s SLP for some great ideas.

Kudos on your Decision!

You should be applauded for your decision to use (at least some of your) holiday time to help your child progress in his/her speech therapy. Any of the holiday activities mentioned above are low-stress, easy ways to maintain the gains your child is making in therapy.

Irrespective of what you decide to do, just taking the time — even 10 minutes every other day or so — can enormously impact your child’s overall speech improvement trajectory. Add a dimension to your enjoyment of the holidays with your family by taking advantage of those communication possibilities!

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